I came upon a well in the woods,
a cattle well you covered over years
ago to protect raccoons and people too
who might be exploring this thicketed part
this branchy path where also walk
the ghosts of farmers
who kept these woods as fields before
they’d grown to brush, then pine
and hemlock trees five stories high.
Do they keep an eye on the old well?
Is it they who have moved the wooden
cover, making a way for unwary people
or pets to stub a toe or paw on stones
that open a way down to the cool
temptation of life everlasting that water
is? Well water, that is, with its placid
face that draws us in. Kith or kin
are we to them who have gone before
ever we were born? Who maintained
the spirit of the 100 acres given to crops
and animal grazing and once-on-a-time
wells where a beast could drink?
Mary, look at the camera.
Joseph? Move in a bit closer.
There. Both of you, smile.
And now, click.
That’s it. We’ve got it.
The family photo
this first night of his life
This is big news.
It will be all over the Internet
by morning. If he is who
he’s cracked up to be
this is the story of the century.
I’ll get back to you
with a hard copy.
I’m sure you’ll want to
remember this night forever.
Church is a machine for the making of saints,
not so different from the making of sausage
the process of which you don’t want to see.
It may be the same with the saints––
God at work in the human soul, sweating
betraying an image we cannot abide.
But who’s to say what goes on inside any man
woman or child? God knows and perseveres,
poking, prodding, sometimes with fire
seeming oblivious to the pain induced, which
must be serving some purpose, some use,
hidden as is the process for making sausage.
If ever I needed further proof
that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
was still active in our fallen world,
I found that proof in you. In your seeing
what had to be done and doing it
with a passion that consumed your life.
A prophet indeed, and more than a prophet––
a man for all seasons, tested and found
worthy of the task assigned.
Now you go on in support of the life
you called into being by your bold action
knowing this is how the kingdom will come.
… the moment one definitely commits
oneself, then Providence moves too.
The Scottish Himalayan Expedition
To walk from periphery to center is the longest walk
one makes in a given life. No matter when
it happens––at 3, 15, or 73––no matter, only
that it happens, lands you at the creating center
committed to fulfill the work of your life,
most immediately, the work of the day.
Who’s to say but you what the work is
discerned in silence and fed by a hundred moments
of deep joy. Go ahead. Take the walk of commitment
from periphery to center. I double-dare you
to fall down and kiss the ground that is creation
of which you are a part, so help you God.
stewardship of the land we bought
when we were barely old enough
to grasp the meaning of being stewards
of what we had been given.
With age comes understanding.
With age comes sense of responsibility
to history held in the rings of the oak
in the whorls of pine crowned with cones
and even deeper in glacial stones
raked across this land in a distant time,
all of it passing through our hands
like water, as do the passing years …
And what we choose, our actions now
are the future for stewards who follow.
I would sweep the world clean with my yellow broom
but all I am asked to do is sweep my own
room, which is my world in this latter hour
when the sun sets early and naught flowers,
when all sinks deeper with each passing day
into the freezing ground that calls to sleep.